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Georgetown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

St. John's: 200 Years of History

 
 
St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 1, 2018
1. St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker
Inscription.

St. John's: 200 Years of History


Step across the cobblestone street and trolley tracks of a bygone era and look up at the façade of St. John's Church, Georgetown Parish, designed in the Federal style by William Thornton, architect of the Capitol. This Episcopal parish, established in 1796, attracted notable early Americans including Thomas Jefferson, who contributed $50 for the original edifice. Thomas Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, was among the founders and Francis Scott Key was a St. John's vestryman when he wrote The Star-Spangled Banner in 1814. Vestryman Henry E. Cooke, governor of the District of Columbia, generously supported St. John's works, including a mission for seamen and bargemen, which became Grace Church on lower Wisconsin Avenue.

St. John's was a strong supporter of the Union during the Civil War. In the depths of the Great Depression, parishioner Eliza de Saussure Gault worked tirelessly with the poor, especially orphans. Two centuries after its founding, St. John's installed its first female rector, Margaret Graham.

Learn more history from the plaques at St. John's — on the front lawn and on the Potomac Street side of the building. Notice the outside stairway originally built to provide entry to the church balcony for
St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 1, 2018
2. St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker
parishioners of all races who were too poor to pay for pews, a common fundraising practice of early churches.

Over the years, a dozen or so churches and a synagogue have been established in the one square mile that is Georgetown. Colonial Georgetown's atmosphere of religious tolerance nurtured a broad spectrum of faiths that today include Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Christian Science and Jewish as well as Episcopal.

Reverse:
Restoration of Georgetown's Call Boxes


Georgetown’s Call Box restoration project is part of a city-wide effort to rescue the District’s abandoned fire and police call boxes. Known as Art on Call, the project has identified more that 800 boxes for restoration. Neighborhood by neighborhood, they are being put to new use as permanent displays of local art, history and culture. The Georgetown project highlights the anecdotal history of Georgetown and its unique heritage as a thriving colonial port town that predated the District of Columbia.

Police alarm boxes such as this one (originally painted blue) were established for police use starting in the 1880s. An officer on foot - as most were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - used the box to check in regularly with his precinct or to call for backup if needed. The police boxes were locked, opened by
St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 1, 2018
3. St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker
a big brass key that officers carried. Inside was a telephone that automatically dialed the precinct’s number. Checking in regularly was a way to make sure the patrolman was doing his job, and also a way to make sure he was safe. Use of the call box system began to decline in the 1960s with the advent of two-way car radios and walkie talkies. The phones were finally disconnected in the 1970s and replaced with today’s 911 emergency system.

Art on Call is a program of Cultural Tourism DC
with support from
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Program
District Department of Transportation
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Citizens Association of Georgetown
St. John's Episcopal Church Georgetown Parrish

 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC.
 
Location. 38° 54.471′ N, 77° 3.913′ W. Marker is in Georgetown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of O Street Northwest and Prospect Street NW, on the right when traveling west on O Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20007, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. John's Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish (a few
St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker with St. John's Church in the background image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 1, 2018
4. St. John's: 200 Years of History Marker with St. John's Church in the background
steps from this marker); Colonel Ninian Beall (within shouting distance of this marker); The Last Home of Stephen Bloomer Balch, D.D. (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); President John F. Kennedy (about 500 feet away); A Drugstore Like No Other (about 500 feet away); Let the Good Times Roll (about 700 feet away); Volta Place: A Place in History (about 700 feet away); Georgetown's Watering Holes (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Georgetown.
 
Categories. Charity & Public WorkChurches & ReligionSettlements & SettlersWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 3, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 1, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 1, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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